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Our Story

Almost a year after we both said I do, I thought I would re post the story we sent out to announce our engagement…

Here’s the story…

Matt Tells about the Beginning

For those of you that don’t know I have been courting a sweet girl named Liz Fiene for the last seven months. Liz and I met at an after-Thanksgiving party that she and her roommates, Joy and Tiffany, threw for their single friends in Moscow. Soon after that, Liz and her roommates moved down the street from me and my roommate Randall. We all quickly formed a friendship and it wasn’t long before we all started coming over to each others’ apartments regularly. Before too long, I started noticing things about Liz, like how much of a servant she was, and how she always seemed to make sure that everyone who came over to her apartment felt welcome. She also had a real heart for missions and really enjoyed the work that she was doing in Moscow. After a time we started writing each other messages back and forth on the computer (thanks to Facebook!) and it seemed to me that the interest that I had taken in Liz was being returned. It wasn’t long before I had made up my mind to ask her out.

Liz’s First Impressions

I had also started noticing what a quality guy Matt was. I was impressed by him–his humility, his strong walk with God, his foreign language ability, how he served me and others, and how he noticeably cared for others. I was definitely intrigued!

Matt Tells about the Courtship

In March, I asked Liz if she would be interested in pursuing something deeper than friendship, and believe it or not, she said yes. However, there was a bit of a catch. Strictly speaking, her organization did not allow her to date while she was on the field. The very next day we talked to her supervisor and he didn’t have a problem with us developing our friendship by intentionally spending time together in public or with other people around.

The next several months were some of the best months I’ve had on the field. Liz and I shared long walks, participated in ministry events together, and we even took up dancing together. In short, our budding relationship really started to grow. We were quickly moving past the friendship stage. Later on in the summer I even got a chance to “meet the parents” as Liz’s family spent some vacation time to come visit her. It was during that time that Liz’s supervisor called us back to have a meeting with him. He found out that the no-dating policy was stricter than he first realized and that there was a very real chance that Liz could get sent home because of the relationship. It was a very intense week as we wrestled with the decision before us: go home early or stay with the fear that Liz could be sent home at a moment’s notice. We decided that since we were way past the friendship stage of our relationship and already discussing the future we would try and quietly finish out the fall and head home in December.

That was the plan up until October 8th, when Liz got a call that the national supervisor found out about our relationship status and that Liz would have to leave the field in a week. It was hard to hear, but we can see how God had prepared us for this. None the less Liz was faced with the decision to head home early because of our relationship and had to busily prepare to leave Russia after having lived here for a year.

In the meantime, I had a decision and preparations to make of my own. I’m not exactly sure when I decided this, but by the time we made the decision to leave in December I knew that Liz was the woman I wanted to marry. I had it in my mind to pop the question the day after Thanksgiving, but that was obviously not going to happen now. At first I did not know what to do. Would proposing now be the perfect way to send Liz home, or would it only add to a very stressful situation? Well, thanks to good counsel I decided the time was now, and that Tuesday I asked Liz out on a date (technically our first) so that we could “celebrate her birthday” early. On Wednesday I got Liz’s ring size from her roommates and bought the ring, and by Thursday the stage was set for the proposal.

Liz Tells about the Proposal

I had been in “get everything packed and finalized” mode, and was oblivious to all of Matt’s behind-the-scenes scheming. He showed up on my doorstep Thursday with a huge bouquet of roses and a shopping bag with birthday gifts (what a genius!)–I had no idea that the night would turn into more than a birthday dinner! While eating in a nice restaurant that was a special place for both of us, Matt gave me the choice of what we would do next–either hit up Red Square one last time, or go to the University Overlook (with a great view of the city), or stay inside to have dessert (since that day the weather had turned very cold–right at freezing). Since I had pulled out my heavy winter coat for the occasion, I decided that I would like to go to the overlook with Matt, which I later found out was the place he was hoping to take me all along!

We walked there from the restaurant, and it was a beautiful night. Everything was perfect–even the wide, tree-lined sidewalk was vacant except for us. We reached the overlook, and the city lights were beautiful. Hardly anyone else was around. I took my gloves off to take a picture of us, and apparently, that inspired Matt to go ahead with the proposal (access to my ring finger)! So after I took the picture, Matt pulled out from the “goody bag” a poem that he had written, and began to read it to me. I think after the first line was when I started weeping. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I kept saying, “You wrote that? That was amazing!” We hugged, and then we told each other “I love you” for the first time. Then, Matt said he had four more words he wanted to say to me. At that point, he got down on his knee and pulled the ring box out of the bag and asked me to marry him. I said, “YES I WILL MARRY YOU!” It really was perfect, everything about it! I was so surprised and kept saying, “I can’t even believe it!”

So that was Thursday, October 11, and on Monday, October 15, I flew back to my hometown of Liberty, MO (Kansas City area) to start the wedding planning. Matt will come back to the States early December after finishing up his work in Moscow. We are planning an April 12th wedding and will then live in Denton, TX for about a year, preparing for international mission work with his church (Denton Bible) in either Moscow or Vienna, Austria. Thank you for your friendship and your prayers as we begin this exciting time of life together and seek God about the next steps!

T-Minus 90 Days and Counting…

I feel like we are in the home stretch of our home service assignment (what is more commonly referred to as furlough). We are hoping to leave in June, which is a short 3 months away. I was reminded of this when I was looking at a relocation check list on a handy website for expats living in Vienna. We are almost at “moving day minus 90” and while this is not my first move overseas this there is a lot more involved now that there are two of us. What I’m saying is gone are the days where I start packing the night before I leave.

Apart from the things to consider on the “Virtual Vienna“checklist we have support yet to raise and a short-term team to lead as well. We had our first team meeting with the college team last weekend. They seem like they will be a good group and Liz and I are looking forward to helping them with the trip. There are, of course, lots of details to work through not the least of which is coming up with a plan to lead a week-long English language summer camp in Slovakia.

As far as support is concerned we are still working hard at it. Raising support is one of the many endeavors that requires a lot of “scattering of seed” before you see fruit. Liz and I have been hovering at around 70% for some time so we are trusting the Lord to see some fruit come in soon. In these kinds of situations, though, it’s best not to lean on a shovel while praying for a hole so we are currently down in the Houston area to visit with people in my home town and ask them to partner with us. We plan on making a similar trip to Missouri sometime in late April. After that we are hoping the next trip we take will involve a one-way ticket to Vienna!

The Feeling of Possibilities


You know that feeling you get when you step onto a college campus–the feeling of newness, future possibilities, and exciting things to come, like anything could happen? Well, that’s the feeling I had as Matt and I stepped onto the UNT campus last Thursday to attend German Club. I felt like a student again, and unofficially, I am. I am beginning to learn some basic German before we ship out to Vienna in June with the help of Matt, a textbook, this once-weekly conversation club, and soon, Adam’s set of German cd’s (thanks, Adam)!

The club was fun, and although I was the beginningest of beginners there, I was still in the company of some beginners with a few advanced speakers thrown in the mix. At first, I froze when someone asked me a question, and I kept wanting to ask questions in Russian (thanks, Moscow)! But by the end, I was able to clearly say, “My name is Liz”, to spell my name in German, and also nailed my target phrase, “How does one say…?” This week I plan to bust out a few more new phrases I’ve been working on and to get a good start on my numbers. I’m convinced that all of this learning will keep me young (or at least help me not to feel so helpless as I first land in a German-speaking environment for real)!

Send-off ’03 Video

So to be true to my word, this is a video I recently shared on facebook. I put this montage together from video and pictures that a friend took at a send-off the day before I left for my first overseas assignment in Russia. In the end it turned into a retrospective on my time there. Enjoy!

Turning Over a New Leaf

I had a blog when I went to Moscow. Anybody remember it? Yea it was pretty sad, so if you don’t that’s probably a good thing, and if you do, then you’ve figured out the title of this post. For the longest time, with my personal blog on our missions website and facebook I thought, “I’ll never do another blog again.” But latley I’ve come to realize two things. The first is that I don’t write enough. We’ll I’ve always known this, but I really want to do better. I need to think of it more as a joy then a requirement in my life and so I’m making another attempt. The second thing is that I realize that not everone is on facebook and while that may one day be untrue, until that day I’m going to attempt to put some of the fun things that I post on facebook to this blog.
So here it goes, I hope I do better thistime!